Magyar bayonets of Lenin. How Hungarian prisoners of war fought in the Red Army
After the February and especially the October Revolution in Russia, the Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war were rapidly politicized in the Volga region, the Urals and Siberia. As we know, the Czechoslovak Corps, which included a large part of it was the former Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war, headed for the subordination of the Entente and took part in the first events of the unfolding Civil War in Russia, speaking in alliance with the "whites". Hungarian (Magyar) prisoners of war chose a different path. Among them, the Bolsheviks gained great influence, which was facilitated by the very favorable attitude of the Bolsheviks themselves to the Magyars - prisoners of war. For example, in Samara there was a Council of Austro-Hungarian workers and soldiers' deputies, who took part in the administration of the city.
The Bolshevik leadership very much hoped for the possibility of using the numerous, organized, and most importantly - the forces that had real combat experience - Hungarian prisoners of war - in their own interests. Of course, not all Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war expressed a desire to take the side of the Bolsheviks. But it was precisely among the Hungarians that the number of supporters of the Soviet government was the largest - for example, as of April 1918, the All-Russian Congress of Revolutionary Hungarian Prisoners of War represented about 100 thousand people.
Under the leadership of the Hungarian communist Karoy Ligeti, the publication of the first Russian communist newspaper in the Hungarian language “Revolution” began, which was distributed in camps for Hungarian prisoners of war. In May 1918, shortly after the creation of the Red Army, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin personally met with representatives of the Hungarian communist movement — Bela Kun, Tibor Samuel and Dej Farago. These people played a key role in the agitation of Hungarian prisoners of war and the transition of many Magyars to the side of the Red Army.
Bela Kun (1886-1938), who was a journalist in his youth, joined the Social Democratic movement as early as 1902, joining the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. In 1914, he was mobilized for military service and sent to the Eastern Front, where he was soon captured and found himself in the Urals - in a camp for Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war. There he continued his "revolutionary self-education" and became a supporter of the Bolsheviks. After the October Revolution, Bela Kun quickly made a career in the Tomsk Provincial Committee of the Bolsheviks, and in March 1918 created the Hungarian group under the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which took up the direct communist agitation of Hungarian prisoners of war.
Tibor Samuel (1890-1919), former bank clerk, in 1908-1909 joined the Hungarian Social Democratic Party and became a journalist for opposition newspapers. After the outbreak of the First World War, he was also drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army and sent to the front, and in 1915, Tibor Samuel was captured in Russian. Joining the Hungarian group of the RCP (B), Tibor became the closest ally of Bela Kun and set about creating the Hungarian detachments to defend the Russian revolution.
IN AND. Lenin and Tibor Samuel
Dej Farago (1880-1958), unlike Bela Kun and Tibor Samuel, came from the proletarian environment. In his youth, he worked as a mechanic, back in 1897, he joined a Marxist circle in Vienna, then was secretary of the union of mechanics, one of the leaders of the Hungarian railway workers' union. His further journey is typical of many “Red Magyars” - a call to the Austro-Hungarian army in 1914, and a Russian captive in 1915. In the spring of 1918, Farago joined the Hungarian group of the RCP (b), created by Kuhn and Samuel, and as its representative met in the Kremlin with Lenin himself.
After this meeting, Deje Farago (pictured) was assigned to Samara, where at that time there were a large number of Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war - ethnic Hungarians and Germans - Austrians. Farago was faced with a rather serious task - to create from former Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war armed formations of internationalists who could support the Bolsheviks in the defense of the revolution. The former locksmith and trade union leader got down to business with enthusiasm. In Samara, the newspaper “Ebredesh” (“The Awakening”) appeared, published in Magyar language and distributed among Hungarian prisoners of war. In the shortest possible time, Farago managed to create an organization of Hungarian prisoners of war in Samara, and then in Syzran.
Meanwhile, at the end of December 1917 of the year, before the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the Samara Kommunar unit was formed in Samara, staffed by Hungarians and Austrians. The Hungarian prisoner Shandor Siklay (1895-1956) was appointed his political commissar. Called to the Austro-Hungarian army in the 1914 year, a year later Siklai was captured in Russian, and after the revolution he joined the Bolsheviks and engaged in the formation of international detachments.
In March, 1918 was created another Samara detachment, staffed by the Hungarians, headed by Bela Bayor. In Nikolaevsk, the International Special Purpose Battalion was created, a significant part of the personnel of which were Hungarians. In the Urals region, the 1 Moscow International Communist Battalion of 500 infantry, 300 cavalrymen, with 15 machine guns and 4 artillery guns operated. The detachment was commanded by another Magyar prisoner of war - Lajos Wienerman - a former carpenter, and then a non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian army. A significant part of the Hungarians were in the Saratov international regiment. The international battalion of the Samara Provincial Cheka was commanded by Ernst Sugar (1894-1938) - also a former prisoner of war who joined the Communists. The battalion consisted of 600 bayonets, 60 sabers, 5 machine guns and two 3-inch guns.
It should be noted that, unlike the same Latvian riflemen, the Magyars in the Red Army did not create their own national formations. They constituted a significant part, and even the majority of the personnel in many international teams and detachments, but there were no purely Hungarian detachments. The Red Magyars played an important role in the establishment of Soviet power in the Volga region, in the Urals and in Siberia. Thus, the Moscow International Communist Battalion under the command of Lajos Wienerman (in the photo) fought against the Czechoslovaks and Cossacks, captured Novouzensk, Aleksandrov-Guy and a number of villages and farmsteads.
According to the reports of the Red Army command, the Wienerman detachment was distinguished by great combat effectiveness. However, on October 15, 1918, in a battle with the Ural Cossacks near the village of Abisheva, Layosh Wienerman died. By the way, they buried him in Moscow. The Samara GubchK battalion under the command of Ernst Sugar was sent in the spring of 1919 to suppress the peasant "chapan uprising". Later M.V. Frunze reported to LD Trotsky, that as a result of the suppression of the uprising, at least 1000 people were killed, about 600 people were shot for counter-revolutionary activities. The total number of Hungarian Red Army soldiers in Siberia and the Far East alone is estimated by historians at 27-30 thousand people.
During the Civil War in Russia, the “star” of the famous Hungarian writer Mate Zalki (1896-1937) rose. Mate Zalka, who was actually called Bela Frankl, graduated from a commercial school and almost immediately after graduation he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army, received epaulets of a junior officer, and then fell into Russian captivity. Joining the communist movement, Mate Zalka organized an international detachment of former Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war in Krasnoyarsk, fought in the rear of the Kolchak troops, rose to command positions in the Red Army.
The fact that the “Red Magyars”, together with the Latvian riflemen and the Chinese volunteers were one of the main foreign forces of the Bolsheviks, was already known during the years of the Civil War. This circumstance was actively used by anti-Soviet propaganda in order to emphasize the "anti-Russian" nature of the revolution. The opponents of the Bolsheviks liked to refer to the fact that the Bolsheviks came to power on the bayonets of the Magyars, Chinese, Latvian, Yugoslav and other international groups.
In the year 1919, when the revolution began in Hungary and the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed, many active Communists from among the Hungarian prisoners of war hurried to move to Budapest to take part in the revolutionary events. Among them, in particular, Tibor Samuel, who held a number of people's commissariat posts in the Hungarian Soviet Republic, including the post of people's commissar for education, and then the people's commissar for military affairs. It was he who controlled the most radical and efficient detachment "Leninists", commanded by another revolutionary - Jozsef Cerny. However, Tibor Samuel’s fate was tragic: after the suppression of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, he tried to flee to neighboring Austria and on August 2, 1919, was shot by Austrian gendarmes.
After the end of the Civil War in Russia, many “Red Magyars” continued to faithfully and serve the world communist movement - in the Soviet Union and beyond. So, Mate Zalka to 1923, he served in the troops of the Cheka-GPU, then worked in various positions - from a diplomatic courier to the director of the Theater of the Revolution in Moscow. In 1936, Mate Zalka volunteered to go to Spain to fight on the Republican side. In Spain, he commanded the 12 International Brigade, becoming known under the name of General Lukács. 11 June 1937, he died from a shell fragment, and Colonel Pavel Batov (the future general of the army) who was with him was seriously wounded. Mate Zalka received great fame as a writer - his works were repeatedly published in Russian in the Soviet Union, translated into other languages of the world.
Bela Kun played a much more sinister role in the Russian Civil War. It was he, along with Rosalia Zemlyachka, who led the "Red Terror" in the Crimea, holding the position of the chairman of the Crimean Revolutionary Committee. After the end of the Civil War in Russia, Bela Kun was predominantly in Comintern work, repeatedly traveled abroad, and then finally settled in the USSR - as it turned out, nothing. In 1937, he was arrested, and on August 29, 1938 was shot by the sentence of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. Ernst Sugar, who after the Civil War continued to serve in the Cheka-GPU-NKVD system and rose to the position of assistant chief of the 4 section of the UMVD UNKVD of the Leningrad Region and the title of captain of state security, was repressed. 25 January 1938, he was shot.
Shandor Siklay (pictured), who commanded the “Samara Communard” detachment, fought in the Urals and in Central Asia and graduated from the Communist University. Sverdlov and worked as his teacher. In 1936, Siclay, “remembering his youth,” went to Spain, where he fought with the International Brigade until 1939, then he was interned and 4 spent in the French colonies in Africa, and in 1943, he was able to return to the USSR. After the liberation of Hungary in 1944, the city of Siclay returned to his homeland, he worked in the staff of the Central leadership of the Hungarian Communist Party, and then became an officer in the Hungarian People’s Army and in 1953-1956. served as director of the Museum of Military stories in the rank of colonel. In the days of the anti-communist uprising, Shandor Siklai and his father-in-law, the chairman of the committee of the Patriotic Popular Front in the town of Budakeszi Lajos Kish, were killed (according to the official version) by the rebels. Sikklai and Kish were shot dead for six residents of Budakeszi and convicted eleven people, sentencing them to different terms of imprisonment. Posthumously Siklai was given the rank of Major General.
Of the heroes of the article, with their death, only Dej Farago, who was captured by the whites during the Civil War and placed in a concentration camp, from where he was lucky to escape, to get to Europe, was lucky to die. In 1932-1944 He worked in the Hungarian trade union movement, and in 1944, he was arrested by the Nazis and placed in the Mauthausen concentration camp. After leaving the camp after the victory over the Nazis, Farago actively worked in the society of the Soviet-Hungarian friendship, and died in 1958 at the age of 78 years.
For the majority of ordinary Hungarian prisoners of war participation in the Civil War in Russia was only an episode on the way to the long-awaited return from Russian captivity to their homeland. Nevertheless, the “Red Magyars” took an active part in the Civil War, deserving gratitude from the Red and sharply negative attitude from those who supported and sympathized with the White.
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